For literary geniuses, there's no such thing as a simple "It's not you, it's me."

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Anaïs Nin

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The holidays are a time for joy, love, and family. Unfortunately, they're also the time of year that a lot of couples break up—whether because of the stress of extended family get-togethers or just the chill of winter. But how to part ways in the most eloquent way? Take a few pointers from great authors, of course.

Below, I've collected a few breakup letters from famous lovers and writers to offer some gentle phrases and piercing metaphors to make the process easier (or harder, if prefered) on the ex-lover-to-be.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.